Thursday, July 10, 2014

Boys Don't Cry

She was standing at the stop, waiting for her bus, when she saw three kids approaching. The elder one, who must have been around 10 years old, was clutching the hands of his 4 year old twin siblings - a boy and a girl. He carefully crossed the road and started walking towards the stop. The sister, who couldn't keep up with the longer strides of her brother, slipped. She fell on the footpath, face flat. 
The woman at the bus stop rushed to help the children. She picked up the crying girl and checked for any scrapes or bruises. The elder boy thanked her and dusted off the little girl. The woman backed away, looking at the boy blowing on her sister's knees tenderly.
He wiped her tears and spoke softly,"Don't cry... see, you are okay. No bruises." 

He looked around and saw a tree with yellow flowers, in full bloom. He asked his younger brother to get a flower from the many that had fallen on the ground. The younger brother, who was looking at her sister with innocent eyes, did as was told and came back quickly with a beautiful yellow flower in his hand. Wordlessly, he gave it to his elder brother.

"Here you go. You like flowers na," the handed her the flower, "Come, get up now."
He helped the girl get up, "Can you walk? Does it hurt?" 
The little girl sniffed the flower, smiled a toothy grin and shook his head. The elder boy patted her head. He held the hands of his siblings tightly and started walking, albeit a little slowly.
She looked at the trio, walking away hand-in-hand, marveling at the boy's tenderness and applauding, in her mind, the parenting who had raised such a sensitive and mature young boy.

*A Couple of Weeks Later*
She saw the same three children again. The little girl was chasing her twin. The elder one was walking alongside. This time the little boy fell and scraped his knee. She was just about to help the boy get up, when she remembered the previous incident and realized that the young boy was up to the task. 

However, another young lady couldn't stop herself and tried to help the little boy get up. But, this time the elder one stopped her. 
"It's okay, aunty, he will get up on his own. He is a big boy," the elder one said without even moving a muscle. The woman remembered how he was by the side of the little girl in a second when she had fallen.
The little boy sat up and looked at his bleeding knee. His eyes instantly filled with tears.
"Stop crying like a girl. Don't you remember what papa told us. Boys don't cry. Are you a weak little girl or a strong big boy?!"
The little boy wiped his eyes and got up, "I am a strong big boy."
"That's better. Come, let's go."
The kids walked away, the elder boy holding their hands, the little girl smelling a flower and the little boy, limping. 
She looked at the trio, walking away hand-in-hand... confused at the gender stereotypes that condition the thinking of children at such a young age.

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